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After school group’s 55 show pigs burn, donated pigs are sent from across the country

Pigs may have kicked over heat lamps, Perry fire chief says

Perry Fire Chief Lee Parker talks about fire that destroyed Perry FFA Ag Barn, killing 55 show pigs.
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Perry Fire Chief Lee Parker talks about fire that destroyed Perry FFA Ag Barn, killing 55 show pigs.

Pigs are being sent from as far away as North Dakota to help the Perry Future Farmers of America rebuild its program.

A fire Nov. 18 destroyed the organization’s agriculture barn and killed 55 show pigs. It’s still under investigation, but Perry Fire Chief Lee Parker said Monday that heat lamps could have been knocked over by the pigs.

Farmers and producers from south Georgia, Indiana, North Dakota and Mississippi are giving pigs to the Perry FFA, adviser Phil Gentry said. The first group of pigs arrived Friday, and the club will have 65 after all the donations come in.

“We’re not sure where all they came from,” Gentry said. “Some are just folks who heard about our plight and wanted to donate some show pigs.”

The organization, which includes members from Perry High and Perry Middle schools, had to meet the December ownership deadline for pigs in order to to compete in the upcoming show season. Now students are all set, and their first show will be in January, Gentry said.

The pigs will be housed at the agriculture center at the Georgia National Fairgrounds until the Perry FFA barn is rebuilt. The organization is headquartered in downtown Perry, beside Morningside Elementary School.

Club members and advisers didn’t know how they were going to come up with the money to replace everything, but the community stepped in quickly to help.

Several construction companies in Middle Georgia have committed to help build a new structure, a North Carolina company is donating supplies for the barn, and Georgia businesses are replacing the students’ show equipment that was lost in the fire, Gentry said. The group has also received lots of monetary donations and contributions through GoFundMe pages.

“It’s just been an amazing outpouring of affection from across the country,” Gentry said. “(FFA) is like one big family. You take care of each other. When this happened, they opened up their arms and took care of us.

“I never thought within a week we’d have the pigs replaced and a new barn.”

The Houston Board of Education has arranged for debris to be cleared from the site starting Monday, so that construction can hopefully start later next week. The barn should be rebuilt by January.

Andrea Honaker: 478-744-4382, @TelegraphAndrea

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